By April 1964, Marvel Comics writer Stan Lee had an impressive roster of superheroes to his name (Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, among others) when he introduced the world to one more in Daredevil #1. In that issue, he created Matt Murdock, a blind attorney who uses his other enhanced senses to fight crime and deliver justice outside the courtroom.
Since then, Daredevil has starred in over 500 comic books, and on April 10, Marvel is bringing him to a new medium and audience in its live-action Netflix television series. If you’re looking to get familiar with Daredevil before you binge-watch the show, read on. I’ve put together 3 classic comic books that will have you appreciating the show almost as much as Daredevil’s die-hard fans.
Daredevil: The Man Without Fear (1993)
By: Frank Miller and John Romita, Jr.
By now, you’re probably familiar with some of writer Frank Miller’s work through movies: Sin City and 300 were both originally Miller comic books before they were adapted into successful movies. It’s no wonder then, that it looks like Marvel’s new TV-series is going to be heavily inspired by his work on this 5-issue mini series, which was originally conceived as the plot for a full-length Daredevil movie.
This story from the ‘90s is probably the best re-telling of Daredevil’s origin, though it contains significant differences from Stan Lee’s original. Miller starts with the accident that robbed a young Matt Murdock of his sight and gave him his other powers, and takes us through the journey of how he becomes Daredevil. Miller and artist John Romita Jr. show us how Murdock receives his training from the mysterious figure Stick, and his original forays into vigilantism before he has an alter-ego name or a costume. This series will also give you a basic introduction to two other classic Daredevil figures: Elektra and the Kingpin.
Daredevil: Yellow (2001)
By: Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
While Miller changed the story of Daredevil’s origin (many would say, for the better), this 2001 re-telling, writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale are more faithful to beginning 1960s stories of how Daredevil got his start. They do a great job of capturing the essence of the Lee’s work (including the original Yellow costume) while telling it in a modern way that probably holds more appeal to the current generation of fans.
Daredevil: Yellow also introduces us to one of the most important characters in Matt Murdock’s life, one we’ll be seeing in the TV-series: Karen Page. This story’s narration is through a set of letters to Karen recounting the early days of their relationship, when Matt and his best friend Foggy Nelson started their law firm and hired Karen as their first employee. It parallels the start of Matt’s career as Daredevil. In addition to Karen, through this story you’ll also get a short intro to early Daredevil villains such as The Owl, who it looks like will feature prominently in the TV-series. If you enjoy the style and art of Daredevil: Yellow, you may want to check out some of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s collaborations tackling other iconic characters, like Batman: The Long Halloween and Superman for All Seasons.
Daredevil: Born Again (1986)
By: Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
After you’ve become familiar with the different takes of how Daredevil got his start and some of the recurring characters, you’ll be ready for what is widely-considered one of the best and most influential Daredevil stories of all time. In Born Again, Daredevil’s secret identity is sold to the Kingpin by one of the people closest to him. In the space of the first 25 pages, Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli show how the Kingpin uses this information to turn Matt Murdock’s world completely upside down. Gritty is a euphemism for the dark tone of this book, which shows Daredevil at one of his lowest lows before he climbs his way back up to gain control of his life. Born Again will show you just how insidious the Kingpin can be, and introduce you to another important Daredevil character who will surely feature prominently in the TV-series: investigative reporter Ben Urich.
And there you have it! That should get you started on the Man Without Fear.
Let us know what you think, and long-time Daredevil fans, please chime in with your own recommendations on how folks should get started. Check out the trailer for the upcoming Netflix series below.